Lupe Fiasco Now Selling Verses For $500

He's back at it...

He’s back at it…

Ok, since we did a think piece in my last post, this time out, we’re going to go light (relatively). After being called “arrogant” by battle rapper Dizaster, thus continuing their long-standing “feud,” news came that Lupe was going to venture into the world of Fiverr-like gigs. Unfortunately, if you’re looking for an actual feature, that’ll run you a smooth $50,000 (which isn’t all that much, considering it is Lupe, but still). Nope, these $500 a pop verses are personalized one-verse-songs for people willing to part with Benjamin and his four other brothers. Think those Valentine’s Day bears with the recordable message feature, but with Lupe’s face plastered on the front.

Or something like that…

We all know some random rapper’s still going to try to make it a “featured” song, though (contract be damned). So, this is going to be fun to see play out. Now, I’ve had my issues with Lupe (still think he’s dope lyrically, but not always on-point in other ways), but this is actually pretty inventive. I personally wouldn’t drop $500 on a personalized verse, only because there are more important things to do with that money. Plus, I could use that to help someone else out who hasn’t already made it. I’m just saying. I support my favorite artists, but there’s a limit, you know?

On Sagas in Hip-Hop

On Sunday, I brought the musical saga I started a couple of years ago with #OneYearLater to a close with the release of Death of the King. While that album is epicness (what, you expected me to say it sucks?), it got me thinking about other sagas presented in hip-hop. Here are a few of my favorite “sagas,” to lighten the mood.

Lil’ Wayne’s Carter series (2004-201x)

Kendrick Lamar’s story (O.D., Section.80, and GKMC)

Jay-Z’s Blueprint series (2001-2009, thus far)

Big K.R.I.T.’s story (from K.R.I.T. wuz Here to King Remembered in Time)

Lupe Fiasco’s “Michael Young History” story (explained in-depth by the good folks at The LUPEND Blog)

If you haven’t had a chance to check these sagas out, please do so. They act as time capsules into these artists’ lives and the lives of those around them during the time of each album’s release. It’s fun to revisit, and also imperative to ensure that we learn from the mistakes and transgressions each artist has spoken on, so we can ensure a brighter future. As always, this is just my opinion.

@SpeedontheBeat

Before we begin, check out Lauryn Hill’s “Black Rage.” 

I love hip-hop. It’s an amazing art form, and it’s so diverse. In light of some of the recent happenings in the world (the situation in Ferguson, MO, the Ezell Ford shooting in LA, the incident in Ohio, the Tulsa police shooting, Robin Williams’ suicide, etc), some have brought up the question of “what can hip-hop do to educate people or cause change?” In the 1980s and 1990s, artists jumped to the mic in droves to speak on messed-up situations with the government and the police (not really mental illness, though; that’s another monster entirely which I spoke on on Boi-1da.net). These days, however, it seems that artists won’t speak on an issue unless there’s something to gain from it (publicity, saving face, etc). Is that indicative of artists being “owned” by their labels, therefore hindering them from speaking on issues?* Or is it just that today’s generation of artists aren’t educated on how messed up these issues are?

I think it’s unfair to say that every artist doesn’t give a you-know-what, regardless of their subject matter. I actually got into a bit of a “Twitter argument” with Lecrae over his semi-condemning of “violent” mainstream hip-hop, due to the idea that even if some music is violent in nature, it doesn’t exactly mean that all hip-hop that isn’t love, peace, and harmony is counterproductive. However, there is a tinge of apathy from the world as a whole–since some tend to devote focus to hot button issues, then move onto the next quicker than you can say “keyboard revolutionary.” Of course, human rights are something that need/deserve to be spoken on at all times. Thankfully, the message is getting across that people can’t just #TweetJustice and expect something to change overnight.

But, you combine this “where’s the next cause?” mentality with a generation that is more likely to turn Trayvon Martin into a meme, you’re asking for idiocy from the masses. Rappers aren’t excused from this. But, as “leaders” of black culture, hip-hop artists have to aid those whom they claim to represent–which is why I always applaud artists who give to charities, or do nonprofit work (or speak on these “real-life issues”). I’m also applauding the artists who have used their voices to speak on and/or out about these tragedies. As always, though, these are just my opinions on the matter. Feel free to tweet me on the matter.

*I will not go into how major label artists aren’t “allowed” to speak out (that’s another post entirely). I just wish that everyone could…put their money where their mouth is (plug, but not a shameless one).

@SpeedontheBeat

::cues up Kanye’s “FEELS GOOD TO BE HOME!” outro from “Touch the Sky”::

Greetings, all. Did you miss us?

Earlier this week, I came across Bauce Sauce’s “0 to 100” freestyle, the aptly titled “0 to 140.” If you’re not familiar with Bauce Sauce, he’s a writer who’s made some pretty big waves these past couple of years. Using his irreverent humor and his website, Mostly Junk Food, Mr. Sauce has worked his way to a pretty sweet gig at Complex. So, what better way to announce to the rest of the world that you’re here than to let them hear you spit hot fire…or something. While Sauce has been rapping for a while, apparently, this track is what’s got him dealing with the masses en masse.

BAUCE

The song “0 to 140,” sarcastically, was called the hip-hop killer, possibly because Bauce Sauce is a kind of nerdy-looking white guy going ham over a Drake song about how his blogging contemporaries just can’t see him. Kind of like John Cena, but replace wigga-like mannerisms and a can-conquer-anything attitude with self-depreciating humor. And that’s all it took for some of the hip-hop world to turn on this guy quicker than, well, the WWE “Universe” has turned on John Cena (unless, of course, you “get” it–but even still). Which brings me to my point: in hip-hop, sarcasm and parody tend to not translate that well.

Weird Al got into a long-standing beef with Coolio over the “Amish Paradise” song. Heck, I have been in some weird confrontations because what I said went over people’s heads. Is it because hip-hop, even with its long list of metaphors, is an art form where people still take things at relative face value? Perhaps, considering there are individuals who believe Rick Ross actually has a billion dollars. It’s also potentially that, and I really hate playing the “race card”, because Bauce is a nerdy white dude, some purists unfairly attack this (somewhat out-there) comment of “I [messed] around and ruined hip-hop.” Is it out of line? Kind of, considering that hip-hop, to some, is considered sacred (in other words, no one can make fun of it, unless you’ve been accepted in the culture. And even then, it’s still looked at sideways). But, did it warrant the guy getting threatened to be robbed for being a clown?

In the immortal words of Keith Cozart, nah. Plus, it gives me a reason to post this gif:

Until next time, guys and girls.

****

(Shameless Plug Alert)

For those who forgot, I do actually dabble in this rappin’ thang myself (woot, woot). With that said, be sure to check out Death of The King when it drops Sunday, August 17th over at SpeedontheBeat.Bandcamp.com and on iTunes and all that fun stuff.

A week or so ago, I decided to, for the first time in forever (no Frozen), check out HipHopDX to see what they had to offer. While perusing through the troll comments, I saw Fat Trel had released a couple new freestyles. I listened, and they had some quotables–most of which unfit for the site (if you want to hear it, click here. Be forewarned that it is NSFW). But what really shocked me was a comment on the song. Some dude made it about appearance rather than verses, saying that because “[Trel] look like a monster” (sic), he couldn’t rock with him. This, of course, brings me to this week’s TWIHH discussion.

When did it become about looks versus artistry? Is this a modern social construct based on the (oft-quoted, but often-misappropriated) “feminization of the black man” theory. Or has appearance been just as much a part of hip-hop culture as the graffiti, turntables, and bars?

As far as I can remember, artists have attempted to distance themselves from the pack. Often, that’d involve some sort of image, some sort of look. Some artists reflected what they felt was gangster culture while others reflected afro-centricity. Artists such as LL Cool J made a career out of showing how much more attractive they were to people when compared to, say, an ODB. Heck, LL made a career out of showing his chest to his audience and he is still one of the most-respected artists (even though he’s had his miscues).

So, for someone to say “oh, hip-hop’s gone soft; it’s homoerotic now because dudes are commenting on how a guy looks” is flat-out silly. I’ll agree that the focus on looks has become more intense over the years, with commentators teetering between critique and general creepiness and artists wearing skirts as fashion (a la Young Thug). But, at the core, hip-hop has always been about looks (and marketability). Perhaps now, since we’ve been brainwashed (somewhat) by reality television, social media, et cetera, an artist’s appearance is becoming more prominent in regards to how they’ll be perceived. But again, it’s always been about a look. If you look different, people will want to know more about you (even if it’s in a “WTH are you doing this” sort of way). But inversely, an artist must still look a part.

Artists are, typically, groomed (either by their surroundings or by their team) to look a certain way to fulfill a role. In the case of a Fat Trel, you wouldn’t expect him to appear in a video in skater shoes, clean-shaven, with a big cheesy smile. That’s not the image he represents, nor would it be a believable image. And then listeners would call him fake. This brings me to another point.

Hip-Hop is, in some ways, a stereotypical art form. I’m strictly talking appearance here.

As an artist, I’ve spoken on this once before, as I’ve been stereotyped as being a “college rapper” a la Asher Roth because of my demeanor and dress. It’s one of the reasons why I tend to stay out of the “spotlight,” per se. I’d rather let the music speak for me and then have people see me and say “whoa, that Speed guy looks like that but he speaks on real issues. Kudos.” If I went about it inversely, I’ve been told that I probably wouldn’t be heard, because I’m a shorter guy with a mental illness (shameless plug) who prefers bars to clubs and a Corona to Patron. And that’s even before people got through the “no-fi” approach.

So what can we, as artists and listeners, bloggers and critics, do?

Open our minds, plain and simple.

After spending years on rapping hiatus, NYC bred foodie, University of Maryland alumna, veteran Undergrounduate, and Hip-Hop freestyle phenomenon Lex Rush is gearing up to release her debut EP; but she needs your help. Lex is asking for donations and contributions to help pay for mixing and mastering of the many hits she’s compiling for your listening pleasure. Check out her Indiegogo and listen to some of my favorite songs and freestyles featuring Lex below and be sure to donate to help this project come into fruition. The campaign ends July 7th and trust me, Hip-Hop needs this project!!!

 DONATE HERE!!!

 

 

DONATE HERE!!!

From the Icon himself:

Now I’m sure you don’t wanna hear a boring ass write up or something from anyone else explaining this project besides me so I’ll give you exactly what you want… 2007 I took a leap of faith and decided that I was gonna pursue music full-time with little to no experience in the music business. My goals have been to connect with teens like me who’ve been abused (physically & sexually) and give them inspiration by showing them that no matter how rough life can be, you can channel your energy into something that is positive and prosper. Over the past few years I’ve release[d] a number of projects that represent different stages in my life reflecting on what I’ve experienced and ICON is no different…” (Nike Nando)

SNN_ILOTF_ARTWORK

Nike Nando – ICON: Lord Of The Flyy
Tracklist:
1. Kingdom [Prod. Drew Beats]
2. Super Nike Nando II [Prod. Nike Nando]
3. Glow (Feat. Cayan) [Prod. Drew Beats]
4. Put Me On [Prod. Nike Nando]
5. Majin Vageta [Prod. Johnny Juliano]
6. The Low Down [Prod. NightRyder]
7. Caught In Lust (Feat. Dugee F. Buller) [Skit]
8. You Don’t Own Me [Prod. Sparkz Beats]
9. StarFox [Prod. Nike Nando]
10. Luh Me Doe (Feat. Rolls Royce Rizzy)
11. Hillfiger (Feat. Cayan)
12. M.O.B. [Prod. DeuceTheMusic]
13. What It Takes (Feat. Prince Akeem & Valleo) [Prod. Friendzone]
14. There She Go (Feat. Robbie Celeste) [Prod. Robbie Celeste]
15. Story Of My Life (Feat. Pop Smoothe) [Prod. Just Misfit]
 
Executive Producer(s)
Nike Nando x DeuceTheMusic
[Audiomack]
[Livemixtapes]
Social Media
Follow Nike Nando on Social Media: Twitter, Facebook and YouTube!

 

Warning: Both video clips use excessive language in the lyrics. NSFW!!

(Contains NSFW lyrics)

Long ago, when rappers didn’t rock with each other (keeping it PG-14 here), and it hit a fever pitch, they ended up on a Beef DVD and engaged in RAP BEEF (Hence the obviously NSFW Boondocks clip). The series, for those that don’t remember, spoke on some of the biggest beefs in hip-hop–and some not so much. Beef III, per Wikipedia, was released in 2005, followed by a short-lived BET series, then left in the early-to-mid-2000s like snap music.

(But, even snap music had beefs. Contains NSFW lyrics)

These days, when rappers don’t rock with each other, instead of dropping diss tracks and/or appearing on camera slugging it out, they’ll usually hop on Twitter and spew their disdain, then drop the bars. Part of me is like “cool. If it keeps dudes from killing each other over stupid ish, let the boys cook on Twitter, drop some IG bars, and keep it at that.” But, I’ll be honest. I miss those old days when rappers would actually go at each other on tracks if there was animosity. Heck, I even miss the days when artists would knuckle up, beat their differences out of each other, then get back to their business(es). Now, I’m not condoning violence in music. Nor am I saying that artists should beat the crap out of one another every time they’ve got a problem. There’s enough black-on-black violence in the world. But artists should–oh, I don’t know–hash out their differences artistically!

Twitter Novels and “artsy” selfies (ugh) be damned, we know that Twitter isn’t (that) artistic, y’all.

Perhaps the root of this “Twitter Beef” rap era still falls upon the deaths of so many hip-hop artists because of overblown beefs, rivalries, set trippin’, etc. Artists, as angry as they are at each other, they don’t want to live and die for their music. That’s commendable, as it’s often not that deep of an issue to kill over someone going at you on a track or whatever. But, at the same time, wasting energy to tweet “oh I don’t eff with Rapper B” when they could’ve used that time to make music or what-have-you? It comes off as sneaky and disingenuous, kind of like a troll in a message board who types racist ideologies just to get a rise from people.

I’m the type of artist that’d rather use whatever fuel you give me to go harder on a track, so I just don’t understand tweeting about not rocking with someone. Can someone out there explain it to me?

…”or nah?”

Until next time.

Speed on the Beat

Written by Camille Michelle Gray

Summer is upon us. The atmosphere is warming, the sun is out for longer, and the humidity is ruining everyone’s hair. Along with the change in weather comes the change in wardrobe. I love summer clothes. I love shorts and skirts, and showing off the arms that tennis hath made. Summer dressing is effortless. The way a brightly colored chiffon maxi skirt flows with your legs as the sun shines down on you is one of life’s small yet potent pleasures, like a cup of tea at the end of a long day or a giant lick of love from your pet.

So there you are, walking down a golden-lit city street like a Grecian goddess, certain that your confidence is parting the clouds and curing someone’s cancer, beaming like the sun, settling at the apex of self-assuredness, patting yourself on the back for enduring a long winter (for surely this is the reward after months of parkas and shoveling), firmly rooted in the joy of the summer season…and then you hear it:

Aye girl, I’m tryna see what’s under that skirt! *snicker*

Mood=ruined. Smile=gone. Confidence=eviscerated. Sudden need to run away and hide in corner=maximized.

‘Tis the season for street harassers! They mostly hibernate during the cooler months, hiding just below perception like cicadas under your lawn, unable to be bothered with trying to sexualize a woman in a floor length coat and a balaclava. But distress not, ladies! They are back in full force to make sure you feel slightly disgusted in yourself, in them, and in the world at large. Yes, as legs, arms, and abs start making their annual appearance, this certain breed of man will emerge, giddy and restless from a skinless winter. They are ready, able and enthusiastic about making sure you think twice about wearing your favorite skirt to work, less they mistake you wanting keep cool and look cute in the sun for an invitation to have a one-sided and explosive conversation about your sexual validity.

This bout inappropriateness is so predictable that it almost doubles as a summer solstice. It’s not summer in Washington D.C. until you’ve been leered at a little too long or catcalled on your morning run. Like the first snow of the season christening winter, the first Aye girl, Hey baby, or Mmm girl lets you know that, surely, summer has arrived.

I could go on and on about the vastly creative harassment I endure on a daily basis during these summer months. I could wax poetic about how this patriarchal merry-go-round called America creates and tolerates this behavior. I could even devolve into a righteous rage about how what to men may be intended as an innocuous compliment could be easily misconstrued as a violation of self on the behalf of the woman. But all these blogs have been written already.

I want to talk about something else—something much more insidious, something that is equally as disturbing. I want to talk about the female enablers and apologists of street harassment. Yes, they exist. You may even be one of them. If you’re already reading this with a meh, it’s not really THAT bad type of disposition, then you are part of the problem sister girl.

Female apologists of street harassment frequently hide behind the same versions of arguments over and over:

1)      You should be grateful! When you become old like me and all the catcalls dry up, you’ll wish you cherished them while you were young!

2)      I don’t get street harassed. And because it’s not happening to me, it ain’t important to me and you’re just complaining.

3)      Where’s the harm if they’re just looking? Gosh, let them look. It’s not like they can touch.

4)      Blargh, beautiful women complaining about how HARD is it to be beautiful again. Wow, I’m so sorry that you’re so pretty and men yearn to let you know. Stop the complaining!

Personally, I have been issued the you’re beautiful, get over it, I wish men fawned at me like they do you, you’re young, it’s harmless, it should give you confidence card over and over and over and over again. Certainly at one point in my life I didn’t mind street harassment. I did think it was kind of like an affirmation of self, an affirmation that, Hey, maybe I AM pretty! YAY! But as I grew older, the “compliments” grew overtly sexual and perverted in nature, physical boundaries were absolutely crossed (STRANGER DANGER!), and the novelty of it all wore off gradually and then very suddenly as I shed my naivety and realized my powerlessness in it all.

Allow me to debunk all this bullsh*t:

1)      No. I won’t be grateful for some guy 35 years my senior calling me babydoll (condescending much?) and inquiring about what’s happening under my skirt. Won’t be grateful for a young male stranger grabbing onto my arm, threatening not to let go until he has my phone number. Won’t be grateful for a group of men publicly objectifying me in a Subway Sandwich shop, leaving me with palpable embarrassment and weakened pride. None of these things are to be cherished. None of these things uplift me as a woman, make me feel valued or beautiful. The attitude that I should sit back and take it because one day it will all be gone is nonsense if not only because I WANT IT TO ALL BE GONE NOW. No woman should derive self-esteem from outward validation anyway, especially if it’s as crude and disgusting as the brand of street harassment I know all too well. It bothers me that this simple Self Esteem 101 introductory lesson is lost on some older generations of women. Moreover, the idea that what is young is more beautiful than what is old, and the blindness in which some older women act as accomplices in their own devaluing, so much as to wish that they could be a victim of vile street communication if only to feel beautiful again is a web of f*ckery that only years of school and a doctorate degree can explain. Next!

2)      This argument reminds me of Jon Stewart’s beautifully snarky Global warming isn’t real because right now it’s cold where I am sound bite. Yes, so because no one–thankfully–yells at you on the street or catcalls you, it must not be a thing or, like, a super bona fide systemic failure of patriarchal society. This is called negative denial. It is looking upon an issue and denying its efficacy based on the fact that it’s not impacting you directly. And, hey, if it’s not happening to you, why care? Only boo, that’s a sh*tty argument. All women should care if even ONE woman is harassed because if they don’t, it gives a kind of cosmic permission for more street harassers to feel okay about their behavior. Hey, as long as no one is tattling, it must be condoned right? Whatever happened to this idea of sisterhood, of bonding together? Okay, so YOU aren’t a victim of street harassment, but what about your friend/sister/aunt/niece/daughter/girlfriend/mom/co-worker’s aunt’s sister’s friend that IS? Are their concerns kind of watered down just because you don’t see it as a true issue? As long as we aren’t completely unified in our assertion that street harassment isn’t okay, street harassing men will continually find loopholes to slip through and it will never stop.

3)      You can look but don’t touch! This concept makes sense in some contexts like buying expensive jewelry or walking through a museum of delicate artifacts. But it’s a bit more gray when it comes to human looking and touching. First of all, there is a world of difference between a harmless glance and the territorial terror that a salacious leer can invoke. A man staring at me for three seconds because he is walking by me on the street? Fine. Whatever. (Cue the I woke up like dis choir). But him staring at me and then craning his neck to stare some more, or turning his vehicle around to drive back and stare even more (this happened to me) or him slowing down an entire metro train to stare at me jogging around the adjacent lake (also happened to me)? NO BUENO AMIGA! It’s only humorous in retrospect. But in the moment, what’s to stop me from feeling like that staring man may not follow me back to my car or to my house where he will have the physical upper hand? Some women (and men) would be quick to offer that perhaps I am a meek little mouse who is afraid of the big mean world, always looking out for a potential predator even where there is none. But, in all of the aforementioned circumstances my fight-or-flight sequence was initiated. The most primal signifier of danger lit every cell of my body, as if to warn me that even if a salacious stare didn’t lead to assault, that the body language in which it was administered was disturbing and off enough that I need to proceed with caution. So what am I to believe? People who downplay feeling the danger of being stared at a little too long, or my natural biological wiring that has hundreds of thousands of years of finely tuned accuracy on its side? Next!

4)      I hate this last argument. It’s so delicate. Feelings get hurt, wires get crossed, self-esteem hangs precariously in the balance. It’s awkward because the perpetrators of this limp, pseudo-compliment laced in obvious jealousy and sarcasm often feel that they are not beautiful themselves. And thus, to pander to their low self-esteem, The Beautifuls of the World must hang their heads in shame and accept that having a symmetrical face and/or well-endowed assets has irrevocably tied them to a fate of being harassed. It’s just how the world works, ahh the pity of the gorgeous. Are tiny violins playing yet? This argument is crock. Women who tragically and incorrectly perceive themselves as average or God-forbid, ugly, who don’t ever get harassed or cat called, may wish to ignore the issue of street harassment all together, seeing it as justified punishment for some dare having won a genetic lottery. It’s a little sick and sadistic, as if any woman truly deserves to be sexually objectified regardless of how they look. It also ties back to my earlier observation that yearning for outward validation is backwards in and of itself. According to this argument, if you’re beautiful, you have it made, so you should shut the f*ck up and go put some lipstick on. You’re not allowed to feel violated or sexualized because you being very good-looking is prize enough. The self-perceived Uglies of the world will not fight on your behalf to feel respected while walking down the street because the world has denied them the privilege of beauty, or so it seems. And so very subtly, these women crying that we all shut up and get over it have joined allegiance with our male street oppressors and they don’t even realize it. They want to silence our voice, they want to categorize the whole thing as a non-issue, they want our complacency and our mollification. Yet another example of how women turn their backs on each other, allowing personal webs of self-identification and esteem to trounce the collective soul and goals of the oppressed woman. They step in and out of the sisterhood when it’s convenient for them.

And so there it is. This is how some women tacitly play into the continuation of street harassment. Is it their fault? No. I am sure street harassment apologist theories wouldn’t even exist if not for the patriarchal conditioning of this society. We are all bred into a system that values women first and foremost on how they look. And as long as you are validated by a man, no matter how or where that validation comes, you’re winning right? You should be grateful, right? You should cherish it, right? You should stop complaining about it, right? Just let them look, right?

WRONG. Unapologetically wrong.

This isn’t intended to make anyone feel bad or riled up. It is, rather, a call to consciousness, to observe the pathologies that silently plague perspective and distort our awareness. Sure, to some, street harassment is far from the civil rights issue of the century, but to deny its existence or its power over the everyday lives of everyday women is to allow injustice, even small injustices, to survive and thrive in an underbelly of American ignorance. And as was once so eloquently stated: injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

Greetings all,

As promised, I’m dropping my review for the Fly Rebel Society’s newest collection reFRSH (finally). For those who are unfamiliar with the collective, check out some of my previous coverage of them.

 

The first track, “reCAP,” serves as an introduction and, well, a recap of who they are (Lega-c, Ryda Black, Cooley, TeeJay, and godlymC), what they bring to the game (five distinct, but well-meshed sounds) and why listeners should pay attention to them. The next two tracks from the collection, “Wake Up” and “Introverts Theme Song” feature some sick jazz-rap production. Perfect for that smoking session (that I don’t necessarily promote, but if that’s you, do you), both tracks still drop some gems of knowledge and overall dopeness. One sampling of lines that stands out to me goes as follows:

Need more ‘Good Times’ ‘fore I’m cancelled/
Need to clear my head like a sample/
Dismantle each beat, I’ve got problems I can’t handle
[Shoot], with the Scandals, I don’t watch TV unless I’m on it…

That group of lines in some ways summarizes the album as a whole: fun rap, emotional rap, and retrospective rap all in an hour-plus collection.

From the jazzy Tribe-like flows, listeners are blown away by bass and bravado-heavy tracks such as “Grind,” jazz-meets-heavy-rap tracks such as “She Hearts Raps,” and tracks that fans of artists like J. Cole will rock with such as “Rearview.” This project has a song for every type of listener. Also, with FRS, listeners are given a cohesive group that shines individually and collectively. reFRSH is no different from this formula, considering there are “solo” tracks and posse cuts, and both shine just as bright as the previous track. Overall, the collection has something for everyone, and is a great early summer release. The only grievance I can think of is that the constant switch between styles may take some listeners by surprise. But, at least it’ll keep listeners on their toes.

#SkiesAintSafe.

K. Michelle vs. Perez Hilton and Iggy Azalea (Or Something Like That)

iggy-azalea-billboard.com

Now, I usually try to stay away from gossip and the like. But, since it does deal with some things I feel are big issues in music, I’ll speak on it.

For those who missed it, K. Michelle got a bit heated about Iggy’s southern rap flow (and subsequent Australian accent). Perez came to Iggy’s defense, which sparked a war of words, including some not-safe-for-work terms and suggestions. Now, I’m not a big fan of Iggy Azalea. Big KRIT warned us about impostors jacking Southern ways and appropriating them for their own use. Secondly, Iggy’s got some moments, but it’s nothing I haven’t heard before from a slew of other artists. But, she’s a character, exaggerated for “Joe Listener” to both identify with and laugh at/with. With that said, I’ve got to ask a few questions:

  • Should we be mad at Iggy for adopting a Southern persona?
  • Should we be mad at executives who feel that parading a woman from Mullumbimby playing the role of Southern pop-rap-meets-gangsta-rap princess as “authentic” is the right thing to do?
  • Or…should we shut up and enjoy her brand of pop-rap–or turn it off if we don’t rock with it?

Honestly, I’m a bit “ugh” or what-have-you over her appropriating what she views as southern culture. But, by the same token, she’s not representative of Southern culture as a whole (just one eschewed subset of it). And, if listening to Iggy Azalea can introduce a legion of teenyboppers to “real” Southern artists and “real” rap, I’m cautiously, for it. Notice, however, that I removed race from the equation. Yes, part of Iggy’s appeal is that she is a blond white Australian woman who raps like Diamond from Crime Mob. But, these days, I’d like to have a conversation about a black person and a white person without their race being the reason why I’m discussing them.

Maya Angelou Passes at 86

maya-angelou

I know, I should have saved this for another post, but I’d rather not overwhelm people with Speed musings. Dr. Angelou’s impact on myself and artists worldwide can never be measured. I could take up pages upon pages upon pages gushing over Dr. Angelou’s amazing gift(s). However, I’d like to talk a bit about her late 1950’s album Miss Calypso (which, unfortunately, you can’t find using typical means and either have to buy from third-parties or stream from YouTube). Considering a lot, it’s a pretty unique find. It’s both haunting and just “cool” to hear/see a different side of such an esteemed person. Haunting because her poetic voice shines through and makes even a “simple” calypso song resonate and “cool” because it’s Maya Angelou singing.

Chuck Brown lovers have to appreciate her cover of the song Chuck covered himself, “Run Joe.” While I prefer Chuck’s cover, it’s amazing to hear Dr. Angelou’s voice do this song justice.

 

Until next time guys.

Ok, I know, I know–why is a twenty-five-year-old man so concerned with College Park?

No, it’s not to scope out under-21’s and talk to them. I have OKCupid for that. Nor is it to speak on social media and, in turn, create memes out of my fellow Terps. They do that on their own. Since I live a literal hop, skip, and a jump away from UMD, I find myself in the area more often than I like to admit than not. I also still conduct a teeny bit of business in the area, therefore I’m invested in places where I can (cheaply) talk turkey. So, when I heard that a Denny’s was opening in the area, I was both cautious and enthusiastic. Growing up in Baltimore, the only Denny’s within a twelve-mile radius was this run-down spot near North Point Road that’s now a Sudsville laundromat near an almost deserted K-Mart.

This area looks almost nothing like it did when I was younger...but almost exactly the same. Think about it.

This area looks almost nothing like it did when I was younger…but almost exactly the same. Think about it. About five minutes from here resides the Gentleman’s Gold Club. It’s exactly what you think it is.

Suffice to say, I’d heard of it, knew what it was, but I’d never had it. But, I always wanted it. Like some slightly below average Holy Grail, I searched high and low for a Denny’s. Whenever I found one, there was always something a bit…better to do/eat. But, recently, I couldn’t avoid my cautious enthusiasm about the place any longer. So, after a long day at work, the family and I drove down Route One, past the Enclave, past the Taco Bell, to a little slice of Americana: the Denny’s of Greater College Park. While I didn’t expect five-star dining, what I got exceeded my lowest expectations in terms of “SMH.”

When we walked in, we were three of (including the staff) maybe twenty people in the restaurant. I chalked it up to finals, but it stuck out in my mind; the place just opened not too long ago. Ke$ha and Bruno Mars played from the sound system, so the idea of this being a slice of modern Americana was kept intact, albeit a bit glittered and puffed up. Our waiter, a young woman in her twenties, was pleasant but forgot the bare necessities (making sure your tables are properly equipped with silverware, keeping your menus accessible, keeping your order pad on your person, checking back on your customers, making sure your customers aren’t ready to torch the place because the service they’ve gotten has been below sub-par, etc). When we finally did get her to stop and get everything in order, she was quite apologetic for everything (that’s a plus to alleviate my negativity) and took our orders. I had the “Red White and Blue” French Toast. The family had kid-sized spaghetti and the Cheesesteak Omelet, respectively.

About forty minutes later (after a slew of “mishaps”), our food arrived. My “red white and blue” was replaced by butter pecan and cinnamon. My eggs were cold and my sausages were more mushy than my cats food. The omelet lacked, well, most of what it was supposed to have (you know, peppers, onions, taste–that sort of thing). And our beverages were…unique. We got flavored lemonades. The “mango lemonade” was some Minute Made that was (supposedly) squeezed fresh with a giant glob of mango syrup at the bottom. I stirred and I stirred, but they just don’t make water wet enough to dissolve the “mango” into the drink in any way. I’d understand if it’s puree; puree isn’t supposed to flat-out dissolve into things. But, it was literally half-a-cup full of syrup.

The only thing that came out remotely like expected was my kid’s spaghetti.

Upon paying my check, the cashier asked me how everything was.

“Uh, it was…cool…kind of different,” I hesitantly said, biting my tongue.

“Well, it wasn’t no Ruth’s Chris, was it,” the cashier cheekily asked me, sensing my disdain.

And in the back of my mind (and the front of it), I answered honestly.

“No. No, it wasn’t,” I retorted as I walked out, head-shaking family in tow.

Did I expect Ruth’s Chris? Heck no. But, I at least expected something better than what I got. Maybe it’s some post-open jitters that they’re still trying to work out. That’s entirely possible, just like Terrapin Turf before it (expect a part three of that series at some point, probably in the fall of ’14 with my old a**). Personally, I probably wouldn’t go back for a while, but if you’re in the mood to wait around and possibly get the wrong food, check it out.

At least the pancake puppies were divine. Even though by the time they brought us syrup, the puppies had gotten a bit cold.

Until next time, this is your (admittedly cynical) critic Speed on the Beat, the one who endures awkwardness and clusters so you don’t have to, signing off.